I’m so lucky to have so many friends on social media who have given me so much advice about visiting Australia. And most of these friends I have never met. It’s possibly the best thing about social media. Thank you everyone who helped make my trip so grand, and helped make my Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia post so fun.
We have seen a lot of territory in the past five weeks since we arrived in Brisbane in October. And we certainly couldn’t skip Melbourne – oh no! Melbourne was high on my list and I was excited to have four full days in the city.
Recently Melbourne passed Sydney as the largest (population wise) city in Australia with more than five million people. The two cities have had a love-hate relationship since the first days of settlers. Founded in 1835, Melbourne is the capital city of the state of Victoria. But it wasn’t until the 1850’s gold rush that Melbourne really took off. Today Melbourne is a cosmopolitan city with a colonial foundation, a wonderful outdoorsy population, a great restaurant and coffee culture, fascinating history and beautiful parks.
Our flight from Brisbane didn’t land until 11:00pm so it was nearly 2:00 am before our heads hit the pillow. It was important we didn’t try to pack too much into our first full day since we weren’t sure how tired we would be. Nonetheless we were awake by 7am. We enjoyed a leisurely morning organizing the room and getting out the door about 10am.
Where to Stay
Melbourne has a wide variety of options for accommodations. We felt for our purposes staying in the Central Business District (CBD) would give us easy access to everything we wanted to do. So we booked five nights at the Clarion Suites Gateway on Williams Street right near the Yarra River. Lucky for us Booking.com gave us an upgrade to a suite with a full kitchen, living room, washer/dryer and a separate bedroom and bathroom. That was a real treat after living in the Aussie Nest Caravan for four weeks.
I’ll give you a day by day of our itinerary. Four full days of Marvelous Melbourne. You could do the city in less time, but I am so glad we had four days, and could easily have filled a couple more. For your visit to Melbourne (and you definitely need to visit) I’d suggest trying to see as many of these things below as you can.
We began in the Central Business District, walking from our hotel along the Yarra River. The city is festive in Christmas decor and it was fun to see. Our first stop was Flinders Street Station, the historic train terminus of Australia. Originally sited in 1854 with a bunch of ramshackle shed, the current and impressive building was completed in 1909. Be sure to take a look at the clocks on the front entrance. Historically indicating the next departure for Melbourne’s various train lines, the clocks quickly became a meeting place in the CBD. Now computer-operated, they were once manually changed for each departure.
Across the street is Federation Square, a gathering place for the people of Melbourne built in 2002. “Fed” Square is home to hundreds of events through out the year. On the square you will find the Koori Heritage Trust Museum, The Australian Center of the Moving Image museum and the Ian Potter Australian Art Gallery. Across the street be sure to go inside Saint Paul’s Angelican Cathedral. It is a masterpiece, and if you are lucky you will hear the organ master practicing on the gorgeous soaring old pipe organ. What a treat that was!
Walking on we ducked into several of Melbournes famous “laneways”, what we might call alleys back home. Melbourne was originally laid out in a grid, known as the Hoddle Grid. The Grid remains the heart of the CBD and home to thriving businesses in the historic grid and laneways. Unlike alleyways back in the USA, these spaces are fully utilized with outdoor cafes, coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries. My favorite of the laneways was the DeGraves but there are many to visit. Continuing we visited The Block, a beautiful indoor space on the famous and historic Collins Street. This beautiful European-feeling space was a perfect place for some tea and a croissant at one of the lovely tea rooms.
Queen Victoria Market
It wasn’t raining so we decided to walk to the Queen Victoria Market since we still had plenty of time and surprisingly plenty of energy. From the Flinders Station it’s about a mile. But if you don’t want to walk, the Melbourne Tram System is free in the CBD core. I wasn’t too impressed with the part of the Queen Vic Market that was selling souvenirs, suitcases and shoes, but I loved the produce vendors, the meat and fish area and best of all the hall with cheeses, pickles, and salami. Oh my. We picked up some treats for back at the hotel.
Out On The Town
A few weeks ago we purchased tickets to see Mamma Mia at the Princess Theater, a beautiful historic theater. The theater was built in 1886 and seats more than 1400 people. It’s always something we try to do in as many cities as we can – take in a live show or performance. I’d seen Mamma Mia live before but my husband never had. It definitely gets your toes tapping! The theater was lovely. Before the show we had a marvelous dinner at the iconic The Waiters Restaurant. Started in the 1940’s as a place for local immigrants to come after their shifts at surrounding restaurants, this iconic, no frills, Italian restaurant serves delicious and authentic food. Call ahead, no online reservations. It was delicious. And fun.
Day One Highlights
I started the day with a five mile run on the Capital City Trail, a 30km loop trail around the Yarra River. Our hotel was only two blocks from this trail and I took full advantage.
After a quick shower we walked the trail again and made our way to the beautiful Queen Victoria Park and King’s Domain, passing Government House on our way to the Royal Botanical Gardens of Melbourne. Australia has been such a wonderful surprise with the tremendous number of botanical gardens everywhere we look! All of them free! And this one, begun in 1846, is hands down the best. In fact Quantas Airline magazine proclaims this stunning 33 hectare garden the number one thing to see in all of Australia. We spent two hours and enjoyed it so much.
Next we strolled the lovely and swanky neighborhood on the southside of the gardens and stopped for a late lunch at Matilda 159. A definite place to visit when in Melbourne. All wood or coal fired foods and absolutely delicious.
After a rest back at the hotel next we headed out to enjoy Melbourne after dark. The city is joyfully decorated for the holidays. The Southbank and South Wharf is a lively place of trendy restaurants and bars all along the river, and Fed Square was also lovely with the holiday lights.
Day Two Highlights
The day dawned wet, but I headed out for another quick run on the Capital City Trail because it’s a fabulous part of Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia! So, let it rain!
Next we ventured to the South Melbourne Market to meet a friend for lunch. Despite the rain we wandered around the South Market and did a little shopping. I loved this market and it is all indoors so on this rainy day it was busy. Next we enjoyed fresh cooked seafood at Claypots Evening Star and loved catching up with my friend from high school. We tried nearly everything on the menu! It was delicious.
Next we took an Uber to The Royal Exhibition Building where we enjoyed both the astonishingly beautiful historic building built in 1880 for the International Exhibition as well as the Christmas gift show. Despite the rain continuing, many locals were out and getting their jingle on for the start of the holiday season. The Royal Exhibition Building is also home to the Melbourne Museum and tours of the dome are available with advance reservations.
Finishing our day we walked a few blocks to visit the Little Lon Distillery, recommended to us by a local. Here we were surprised another holiday event underway – a European Christmas Market. We sampled some gin at Little Lon and then hopped on the Tram to head back to our hotel. Tired and happy.
Day Three Highlights
Our final day in Melbourne. Wow the time flew by. We woke up to fantastic weather so we were grateful for that. After I did my Sunday run along the river, we headed out for the day.
Off to St. Kilda we went. And the weather was perfect for a stroll on the beach, in this trendy and touristy neighborhood of Melbourne. St. Kilda is building a brand new pier – it looks amazing – so I hope to see that the next time we are in Melbourne. There were a few people in the water and sunbathing, but mostly St. Kilda was filled with couples walking hand in hand, families pushing strollers, cyclists and runners. It was a lovely scene.
Making our way away from the beach, we tucked into Radio Mexico, a popular St. Kilda spot with very authentic Mexican food. Surprisingly authentic as a matter of fact…I could have been in Mexico. We sat out on the patio, enjoyed the fine weather and some of our favorite cuisine of the world.
Day Four Highlights
Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia
Sadly it was time to say farewell to this great city. I’m sure my husband got tired of me saying “honey I could live here”. It’s full of accessible walking, running and cycling trails. The river is also accessible for kayaks, sculls and small boats. The beach is nearby. The food is amazing. The people are great.
There are things we did not do; Williamstown, a river cruise, museums. Those will need to wait until next time. And I certainly think there will be a next time. We loved our Visit Marvelous Melbourne Australia.
Stay tuned as we head next to Tasmania, Australia’s southern most state and island. We will spend four weeks in Tasmania, so lots of adventures ahead.
You may also enjoy Visit Beautiful Brisbane Australia.
We love it when you pin, share and comment on our blog posts. Thank you so much. And once again, thanks to all my social media friends who gave me such great tips to make our Australia visit amazing.